Kohima, February 19 (NEx): Kohima has been shortlisted to be among the top 25 cities in India in the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge (Stage 1).
The Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, announced twenty-five (25) shortlisted cities for the ‘Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge’ cohort, in collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) and technical partner WRI India, the CEO Kohima Smart City Development Limited, Nagaland, Kovi Meyase informed today.
Meyase said that the Challenge is a 3-year initiative aimed at supporting early childhood-friendly neighbourhoods under the government’s Smart Cities Mission. Under its prime objective of inclusive development, the Government of India is committed to enhancing opportunities in urban areas for all vulnerable citizens, especially young children.
The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge, launched on November 4th, 2020, invited participation from all Smart Cities, capitals of States and UTs, and other cities with population above 5 lakhs were eligible to participate.
During the three-month application period, over 100 cities were engaged through remote or in-person discussions and online capacity- building workshops under the Nurturing Neighbourhood Challenge. There was an enthusiastic response from cities to focus on the needs of young children aged 0 – 5 years and their caregivers in the public realm, the CEO added.
“The first stage of the Challenge involved an open call for applications from city agencies which closed on February 7th, 2021. 63 cities from across India submitted applications proposing neighbourhood-level pilot projects in public space, mobility, and access to services to enhance the physical and psychological health of young children and their caregivers. From the list of applicant cities, the evaluation committee chose 25 cities based on the strength of their applications.
Cities proposed a diverse array of pilot projects, including creating toddler-friendly walking corridors in residential neighbourhoods; safer commutes to early childhood services for vulnerable young children and caregivers living in urban slums; increasing opportunities for nature play and sensory stimulation; and adapting underused open spaces within government school grounds into public play areas after school hours”, he explained.
Meyase also said that besides streets and open spaces, other proposed pilots aim to address the need for early childhood amenities in government office premises, bus shelters and transit hubs; developing Anganwadis with nutri-gardens and age-appropriate play equipment; and transforming outdoor waiting areas for PHCs with shade, seating, and lactation cubicles.
Shri Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA, said: “By engaging cities to shape healthier urban environments for early childhood, the Challenge has refocused attention on the importance of neighbourhood-level interventions. This approach is well-aligned with the strategy of the Smart Cities Mission to promote inclusive, people-oriented development in compact, local areas towards scaling city-wide solutions that enhance our citizens’ quality of life. We are proud to see cities across India stepping up to the challenge and demonstrating their commitment to adopt more sensitive urban planning and design that addresses the needs and aspirations of millions of young children and their families.”